U.S. to sell Patriot missile systems to Turkey only if Ankara cancels Russian S-400 deal - experts

The United States’ offer to sell Patriot missile systems to Turkey will test Ankara’s claims that it only turned to a rival missile system, the S-400 from Russia, because of limited options, an analyst told Arab News.

The Patriot and S-400 are competing systems, and Washington has firmly opposed NATO ally Turkey’s planned acquisition of Russian-made systems that are designed to target American-made military weapons.

“The real breakthrough would only be if Turkey abandoned its plans to buy the S-400s,” Nicholas Danforth, a senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Project, told Arab News. “For the Patriot sale to move forward, Turkish officials would presumably also have to convince Washington they weren’t going to buy the S-400s, which will be hard when they keep insisting they will.”

The Ankara office director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, told Arab News he believes the decision from the U.S. State Department to dangle the offer of the Patriot system is either to make Turkey drop the purchase of the S-400s. Or, if expected, Ankara forges ahead with purchasing the Russian alternative, the Patriot offer would allow the U.S. to dismiss Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program.

The S-400 missile defence systems are meant to target the F-35s, a new American stealth fighter jet that Turkey is helping to produce and is expected to acquire.

“Even if Turkey and the US agree on a Patriot deal, the US Congress would deny its approval unless Turkey first gives up the S-400 deal or the two sides agree on a creative solution,” Unluhisarcikli is quoted as saying in Arab News.

Congress has until the end of the year to approve or reject the proposed sale of the Patriot systems.

“Potentially, Turkey could give up the S-400 deal for a Patriot deal, which will be rejected by the US Congress. While the stakes are very high for Turkey, as it could end up getting S-400 systems and being denied access to advanced NATO systems in the future, there is no easy way out,” Unluhisarcikli also said.